Two-goal Australian hero Tim Cahill has urged undecided striker Mark Viduka to return to the international fold to spearhead the Socceroos World Cup bid in South Africa next year.
Viduka, 33, missed playing in all 14 qualifiers over the past 16 months as Australia qualified for the 2010 finals with two games to spare.
The Newcastle United striker last played for his country in the quarter-final loss on penalties to Japan at the 2007 Asian Cup in Hanoi.
Cahill, whose goals on Wednesday ensured Australia finished top of their Asian World Cup qualifying group after a 2-1 win over Japan, has issued a plea for Viduka to lead Australia’s attack in South Africa.
“He’s a player of stature and brings to the team his experience, knowledge and goals,” Cahill was quoted as saying in Friday’s press.
“Playing off ‘Dukes’ in the last World Cup, people question that he doesn’t get his goals, but he does all the ugly work, holds the ball up, makes us look good, makes me look good.
“We miss that and it’s crazy because we’ll take any experience.”
Australian coach Pim Verbeek has made several fruitless attempts to get Viduka back into the Australian squad.
Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who plays for Fulham in the EPL, said he has spoken to Viduka about playing at the World Cup.
“I spoke to Mark two games before the end of the Premier League season and told him everything that was going on and what a fantastic opportunity it was to be part of this squad and the group of guys and the management,” Schwarzer said.
“I said to him that if he has any possibility to join he should jump at the chance, and hopefully he does.”
Cahill said Australia’s comfortable qualification has put pressure on the Socceroos to improve on their last World Cup performance in Germany where they were beaten by eventual champions Italy via a last-minute penalty in the second round.
“The World Cup’s a lot of pressure on us now. We expect to do better and we’ll be putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to emulate what we did in Germany and, hopefully, go one better,” Cahill said.
The Everton star said he would be back at Goodison Park for the beginning of the English pre-season on July 13.
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